Hooray Icon
Team Building Time Img 15 mins

25 Free Escape Room Puzzle Ideas Handpicked to Entertain the Team in Catch Ups

By Preethi Jathanna

Senior Writer for HR and Remote Work

Reviewed by Kara Funk

Senior HR Consultant, People & Culture

Rewatching the Escape Room movie reminded us of when we went to an escape room in the city. It was an experience like no other, and we couldn't wait to do it again. Although escape rooms offer thrilling adventures, the costs can quickly add up. Here is a fantastic solution -  you can recreate the escape room experience, absolutely for free by utilizing everyday office or household items.  It's a chance for everyone to work together, have fun, and feel good about cracking the puzzles as a team.

If you are looking for DIY or free Escape Room options for your next team building session or weekend outing you have come to the right place. Read on for 25 great escape room puzzle ideas!

If you want to indulge your team in thrilling games, explore our article on virtual escape room, Halloween virtual escape roomfree online escape rooms, and virtual reality escape room games that captivate your participants.

You can also check out our comprehensive escape room review to plan your next virtual event. 

1. What are Escape Room Puzzles?


Escape room puzzles are activities that involve solving problems or challenges using provided clues. They often involve finding patterns, hidden information, or arranging pieces to form a complete picture or solution. Escape room puzzles come in different forms, such as jigsaw puzzles, crossword puzzles, Sudoku, riddles, or brain teasers, and are a fun way to challenge your mind and have some fun with your team.

2 Top 25 Free Escape Room Puzzle Ideas


2.1 Hidden Objects

escape room puzzle ideas - hidden objects

Hidden Objects is one of the popular escape room puzzle ideas. It's about cleverly hiding items or clues in a room. You can look for creative ways to conceal these objects, making it challenging for participants to discover them. For example, you could place a key inside a seemingly ordinary item, like a fake rock or a book, or hide it in a tricky location, such as within a box filled with unexpected things. For hybrid and remote teams, Hiddenobjects.com has some great free virtual options.

2.2 Letter Lock

Another of the best escape room puzzle ideas is to create a mysterious locked box with letters instead of numbers on the combination dial. For this, you need a suitable box, and you will have to choose a secret word or phrase. The task? The players must decipher the clues within the storyline, trying various combinations of letters until they spell out the secret word.

2.3 Connect the Dots 

Remember those fun dot-to-dot puzzles you enjoyed as a child? This escape room puzzle idea is based on a similar concept. You give players a surface with dots; and connecting them in the correct order reveals a shape, pattern, or message. It's a simple yet effective way to encourage teamwork and logical thinking among players. You can also use other elements, such as a map with cities acting as dots, adding an extra layer of challenge.

2.4 Rhyme Riddle

It's a wordplay challenge where you can create creative, cleverly crafted questions or puzzles that require your team to think about rhymes. The answer isn't just any ordinary answer but has to rhyme with the clues provided in the riddle. For example, the riddle might say, "I'm a small and round pet, and I can often be found in a hole." In this case, the answer would be "mole," as it rhymes with the last word, "hole." This is an easy one to play with remote teams by sharing the riddle via screen share and the first answer correctly is the winner!

2.5 Alphabet Soup Mystery

Imagine a big bowl of "alphabet soup," like what you might eat, but this soup isn't for your tummy but for your brain. It's filled with letters, and your team needs to fish out the correct letters to make a word or phrase. Think of it like a fun word hunt. It's a unique way to blend words and puzzles creatively and create an exciting puzzle.

2.6 Sound Puzzles

Sound puzzles in escape rooms involve audio clues, riddles, or music that players must decipher to go to the next level in the game. For example, a recorded message might hint at the next step or location, and players must pay close attention to the words, sounds, or music to make sense of it. In some cases, you need to recognize patterns, frequencies, or hidden messages within the audio, which enhances the escape room experience. 

2.7 Light Puzzles

You can use light in numerous ways in escape room puzzle ideas. For instance - you can use a black light to reveal clues – hide a clue by writing or sticking it on the wall that will be displayed only by a blacklight. Or take the help of shadows – leave the players in a completely dark room. And ask them to find the keys and their way out. And, even arrange objects in a frame to be viewed only from a certain angle – like random pieces arranged at a distance from one another, but when you shine a torch through them from a certain angle, it reveals a clue.

2.8 Math Puzzles

Creating math puzzles is one of the best escape room ideas that can take various forms, such as deciphering numeric codes, identifying patterns in numbers or shapes, calculating measurements, or even solving algebraic equations. To create a cohesive and immersive experience, you can integrate the math puzzle into your storyline and make a mathematical equation a crucial element in solving the mystery or accessing a hidden room. 

2.9 Ciphers

Escape room puzzle ideas-ciphers

Ciphers in escape rooms are like secret codes that you need to figure out to solve puzzles and advance in the game. These codes are often made by changing letters or using symbols instead of regular letters. For example, in a Caesar Cipher, each letter moves a certain number of positions. You must create coded messages and hide them around the room. Players have to find them, figure out the type of code, and use clues to decode the message. 

2.10 Copy Coder

This puzzle involves presenting players with a message that initially looks like random gibberish. However, the secret message is hidden within the seemingly meaningless letters. Players must use a unique lens or decoder that reveals the hidden text. It's like a modern-day version of the secret decoder rings you might have seen in old spy movies. 

2.11 Scytale

Scytale is one of the exciting escape room puzzle ideas that involves a long strip of paper with letters on it, appearing to be a coded message. The twist here is that the message can only be revealed when the strip is wrapped around a rod of the correct diameter. This puzzle challenges players to figure out how to cover the strip to unveil the message. It's like solving a riddle; the solution lies in understanding the puzzle's unique mechanics.

2.12 Word Association Puzzle 

It can be considered a web of words, where each word is connected cleverly. You'll provide players with a series of words, and they must figure out the association between them to uncover hidden clues or move forward in the escape room. It's like putting on your detective hat and solving word mysteries.

2.13 Scratch Cards

A scratch card in an escape room is a creative puzzle idea that mimics the idea of lottery scratch-off tickets. You can give the players a card with concealed sections they need to scratch or peel off to reveal information, such as clues, numbers, or symbols. This information is essential for solving other puzzles or unlocking hidden compartments within the escape room.

2.14 Ambigram

An ambigram is a unique visual puzzle that can be interpreted as two words, depending on how you look at it. The tricky part? When you flip it upside down, the entire meaning changes. You can incorporate ambigrams into an escape room and ask the players to recognize the dual nature of the image. They need to understand that they need to rotate or manipulate it to reveal a new clue or message. It's like a mind-bending optical illusion that challenges players to think creatively.

2.15 Paper on Paper

This escape room puzzle requires two sheets of paper to hide a message. The first sheet contains an intriguing but seemingly unrelated text (e.g., Italian), while the second is blank. On the blank sheet, you'll carefully create cutouts in strategic positions. When you place the blank sheet over the first one, each hole reveals a letter from the text beneath. Connecting these letters will unveil a hidden hint or clue, guiding players toward their next puzzle or challenge. 

2.16 Invisible Text

Invisible text is the next one in the list of escape room puzzle ideas, in which players must identify the hidden text on a paper submerged in water. To create this, you need two papers. Soak one of the papers in water, then place it over a mirror. Take the dry paper and write your message on it with a pencil. The message appears when players immerse the paper in water, leaving them in awe of the unexpected revelation.

2.17 Map of the Apartment

Escape room puzzle ideas-Team-Building

In this puzzle, you sketch a simple apartment map with room details and layout. Choose a specific location and mark it with an "X" to create a treasure map within your familiar space. Players must decipher the map and locate the hidden clue or object you've placed in the apartment. This puzzle reveals that even well-known surroundings can hold secrets, providing a thrilling treasure hunt experience.

2.18 UV Lights

Using UV lights in a tricky way is one of the common escape room puzzle ideas. You don't need special chemicals or expensive markers to create this puzzle. All you need is a fluorescent yellow marker and a regular battery lamp or smartphone flashlight. You need to write your hidden message or clue on a picture with a dark background using the yellow fluorescent marker. When players throw the light on the image, the message becomes visible under the black light, adding a layer of intrigue and mystery to the escape room.

2.19 Arranging Paper Strips

In this puzzle, you'll write a hidden clue or message in a large font on a piece of paper. Then, cut this paper into one-inch-wide strips, ensuring the cuts cross the letters. Next, scatter these strips around the room. Players must work together to decipher the hidden message when they find them. This puzzle promotes collaboration and group problem-solving while adding an element of mystery to your escape room.

2.20 Measuring Tape Challenge

The measuring tape challenge is another on the list of free escape room puzzle ideas, which requires a measuring tape and colorful strings. You need to pick a 3-digit code and represent each digit with different string lengths, each having its color. Then, scatter these strings around the room, along with a guide showing how to use them. Players have to find the secret code by measuring the strings and arranging them correctly.

2.21 Labyrinths and Their Secrets


Labyrinth puzzles add a touch of mystery to your escape room. To design one, you first solve the labyrinth yourself, noting the letters of the answer along the correct path. Then, on a fresh copy of the labyrinth, you need to write these letters along the path while inserting random letters elsewhere to make it challenging. The players must navigate the labyrinth and write down the letters they encounter along their chosen path.

2.22 Laser Maze

A laser maze is an exciting and tricky puzzle where lasers and mirrors are used to create a maze-like path. Players must find their way through this maze to reach a goal or discover hints. To make a laser maze, you must carefully place lasers and mirrors in a room or hallway. The challenge for players is to move through the maze without touching any lasers. You can make the puzzle harder by adding more obstacles or moving players to specific places in the maze to move forward.

2.23 Jigsaw Puzzles


Jigsaw puzzles in escape room ideas involve using pieces that fit together to reveal information or solve a mystery. Participants must assemble the pieces correctly to uncover clues or messages that help them progress in the escape room. These puzzles add a collaborative element to the game, as players work together to complete the puzzle and decipher its meaning to escape.

2.24 Hidden Clue Inside Balloon

In this engaging escape room puzzle, a clue or object is cleverly concealed inside an inflated balloon. Players must pop the balloon to reveal the hidden treasure. The challenge lies in finding a way to safely burst the balloon, usually by providing players with a sharp object like a pin or needle. These escape room puzzle ideas can be adapted to various themes, from carnival or prom-themed rooms to more inventive scenarios like a mad scientist's experiment or a character receiving a balloon bouquet gift.

2.25 The Mysterious Painting

Imagine you have a painting in the room, but it's not just art; it has hidden clues or secrets. Players need to look closely and find these clues to solve the puzzle and move forward in the game. You can create a custom painting to fit your escape room's theme and hide the clues inside. It's a fun way to make your escape room more exciting and challenging for the players as they uncover the secrets within the painting.

3 Tips to Create Escape Room Puzzles

3.1. Select Your Theme

Heist, jungle, alien planet – this will bring your game to life and give you a directional sense of where or how you want the game to run. We provide escape room theme ideas in the FAQ section at the end of this article.

3.2. Prepare Your Story

What is the scintillating backstory behind how the players got trapped in this escape room? Prepare a brief speech that you or the host can deliver to the participants before they enter. Along with the backstory, it can include the game guide and the rules.

3.3. Take Care Of The Clues

The hidden clues are the most important part of the project. So make sure they are well hidden. The FAQ section will provide you with some snazzy escape room puzzle ideas.

3.4. Add The Final Touches

Make sure the theme, the room decorations, and the clues are all aligned. Escape Room Puzzles are all about discoveries. The clues should not stand out and must blend in well, even the ones hidden in plain sight.

4. FAQs

4.1 What are good DIY puzzles for escape rooms?

Creating your clues is one of the best DIY escape room ideas. You can gather household items and turn them into clues, or you can also print off clues from the internet and make the players solve them. Creating an escape room puzzle is as much a mind-bending experience as it is to play them. 

Some of the best escape room puzzle ideas are - math puzzles, find the key or combination, jigsaw puzzles, scavenger hunt, and morse code.

4.2. What is the best free escape room app?

The above article gives the best escape room ideas for teams, but if you prefer to play individually, here are 3 of our favorite websites – 

  • Lockhouse - A collection of escape room games with varying levels of difficulties and price points
  • Gamesgames - A wide range of games for free, if you can manage to play past the innumerable ads
  • Hogwarts Digital Escape Room - For the Sheldon Cooper aficionados who want to play an escape room via Google Docs. 

If you are looking for a mobile app, then both Android and Apple stores provide a wide array of choices.

4.3. What is a free printable escape room for adults?

The internet is filled with free escape room puzzle printable ideas. Here are some of the free printable escape rooms we liked – 

  • Team Building - provides free printable templates and tips on how to use them as clues. Best for first timers looking to create their own escape room game.
  • Big Escape Rooms - Extensive layout and clues for creating your own free printable escape room for adults

4.4 What are the common escape room puzzle themes?

Decorating the rooms with specific themes always gives an immersive experience for your escape room puzzles. Here are some of the most popular escape room puzzle ideas – 

  1. Movies, Especially Horror Movies: You will be in a spooky place, just like in a scary movie, where you need to solve puzzles and face eerie challenges to find your way out, just like the characters in horror films.
  2. Gangster Scene: Have you ever watched gangster movies? Well, in a gangster-themed escape room, you'll feel like you're in the world of detectives and criminals. You'll have to find clues and solve mysteries related to gangsters to escape.
  3. Forest (Jumanji Style): Remember "Jumanji," where they went on a wild adventure in the jungle? Like in the movie, you'll explore a mystical forest, solve puzzles, and discover hidden secrets.
  4. Murder Scene: Become a detective, enter a crime scene, and work with others to solve a murder mystery. All you need to do is search for clues, question suspects, and figure out who did it.
  5. Game-caption – You'll be inside a video game or a virtual world and solve tricky puzzles to outsmart the game and win your freedom. It's like a puzzle adventure within a puzzle adventure!
  6. Gambling Den: This theme is about solving puzzles and mysteries in a gambling setting. You must use your wits and the casino atmosphere to complete your mission and escape.

4.5 What are the best free escape room puzzles?

Some free escape room puzzles include - cipher or code puzzles, logic puzzles, riddles and hidden object puzzles.

4.6 How can I make my escape room more fun?

To make your escape room more fun, you should create challenging yet solvable puzzles, incorporate unexpected surprises or twists, and encourage teamwork among participants. Additionally, adding immersive storytelling elements and themed decorations can enhance the overall experience.

Virtual St Patricks Cupcake Decorating Class
Virtual St Patricks Cookie Decorating Class
Virtual Easter Egg Hunt
International Womens Day
Corporate Retreat

Subscribe to More Updates with Us

We won't spam you, we promise! We'll only send you the best articles and resources to help with working remotely and virtual team building for your remote and hybrid team.

Subscribe More Updates with Us Img
Subscribe More Updates with Us icon
Join thousands on Subscribers Img

Join thousands on Subscribers on Sorry, i was on Mute!

Get the latest Content and news on remote, Work-from-home trends and remote tech.

Join thousands on Subscribers icon Join thousands on Subscribers icon

Hang on Just a Sec

Download you FREE Copy of our ebook on how to throw an Awsome Virtual Farewell Party!

Virtual Goodbuy Party eBook
Individual eBook Hang on Sec BG
Virtual Goodbuy Party eBook

You Don’t want to Miss this

Download you FREE Copy of our ebook on how to throw an Awsome Virtual Farewell Party!

Leaving Already?

Download The Ultimate Guide to Remote Work to Ace those Virtual Stand-Ups and work deadlines!

Virtual Office Party eBook

The Virtual Office Party Playbook

Download The Ultimate Guide to Remote Work to Ace those Virtual Stand-Ups and work deadlines!

Virtual Office Party eBook
Individual eBook Office Party Playbook Icon Individual eBook Office Party Playbook Icon
Virtual Game Idea eBook

Don’t Go Just Yet

Download The Guide to Throwing your Office an Unforgettable Holiday Party!

eBook Don't Go Yet Icon
Virtual Game Idea eBook

Virtual Game ideas to Try Out your Next Meet!

Is the perfect pit stop for you to explore a dynamic range of virtual games and elevate the fun quotient of your workspace

eBook Virtual Game ideas eBook Virtual Game ideas icon
Ultimate Guide Remote Work eBook

The Ultimate Guide to Remote Work

Download The Ultimate Guide to Remote Work to Ace those Virtual Stand-Ups and work deadlines!

eBook Ultimate Guide Remote Work icon
Best RMS
Best RSS
Best RCP